Stream projects to benefit endangered
"When you talk about salmon and
steelhead conservation in the upper Salmon, you have to recognize the private
landowners are the key."
ó DIRK KEMPTHORNE, Idaho Governor
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
State and federal officials last week announced an upper Salmon River
agreement and list of projects they said will help endangered native fish
In Idaho, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne formalized an agreement with federal, tribal
and private partners that is designed to provide a framework for the protection
of fish and their habitats.
"This agreement and its predecessor, the Lemhi River agreement, demonstrate
Idahoís commitment to the conservation of fish and fish habitat," Kempthorne
said. "When you talk about salmon and steelhead conservation in the upper
Salmon, you have to recognize the private landowners are the key."
The agreement, signed Wednesday, Oct. 8, in Challis, provides an opportunity
for participating landowners and irrigators to receive assurances of protection
from federal enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, while conservation
measures are pursued on private properties.
In 2001, a similar agreement was brokered for irrigators in the Lemhi River
basin, resulting in more than 100 successful conservation projects in that
drainage, such as irrigation ditch modifications and stream bank stabilization
"Partners in this effort have agreed to continue to work together in a
creative partnership to establish a process for voluntary compliance with the
ESA, while encouraging the implementation of measures to ensure the conversation
of listed species such as bull trout, salmon and steelhead," said Bill Shake,
special assistant to the regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
"This agreement will provide short-term benefits for aquatic species in the
area while we continue to work with our partners to develop a long-term
conservation strategy," Shake continued.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who chairs the Senate Environmental and Public
Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, praised the agreement.
"I know the others in the Idaho delegation join with me in congratulating
Gov. Kempthorne on the signing of this important conservation agreement," Crapo
said. "The funding we have diligently labored on for salmon recovery will find a
good home with these projects, and I congratulate those on the Lemhi and Salmon
Rivers who are involved with the demonstration projects, benefiting both
ranchers and the anadromous fish."
Separately, $7.5 million in federal funding could go to anadromous fish
projects along the Salmon River near Challis, according to Carl Christianson,
Army Corps of Engineers project manager.
The projects, which involve working with willing volunteers, include
excluding grazing to enable riparian vegetation to grow, creating new flood
plain areas, installing fish screens and fencing areas to create riparian
buffers between pastures and the river.
An environmental analysis should be finished by November, Christianson said.
The projects, sponsored by the Custer Soil and Water Conservation District,
are primarily targeted at restoring the river to a more natural, braided state.
Agricultural use of the river has limited the riverís meandering migrations, and
the channel has experienced down cutting, Christianson said.